Why Do Children Lie and How to Deal With It!
There isn’t a parent in the world that doesn’t have high expectations of their child. Who doesn’t want to raise a perfect child, ideal in every way? In addition to this, there’s isn’t a child in the world that hasn’t lied in his entire life. When we find our child lying about something or bending the truth in some way, we tend to let it reflect upon our parenting style. ‘What did we do wrong?’ or ‘We didn’t raise him to be like this’ are some of the questions that cast doubts on our parenting methods.
Rather than beating yourself up about finding out about this side of your darling, let’s break it down to WHY, WHEN, HOW of the whole situation. Whether it is a simple and innocent white lie or an elaborate ruse to hide the truth, the issue CAN be resolved. And finding a resolution is important because if the lying trait of a child isn’t addressed properly, it may develop into something more serious in the later years.
WHY do children lie?
A child learns to lie without the express intention of sabotaging the truth. Think of it as a way of satisfying one’s curiosity. Children learn to lie around three years of age. The usual thinking process in their minds while lying is either to get out of a particular situation, avoid the consequences of his actions or simply to seek attention. Most often than not, being parents to a child that lies isn’t a reflection on our parental abilities and capabilities. But having said that, it wouldn’t be wise to always shrug responsibility towards a child who lies constantly. The question to ask ourselves is whether any of our actions or behaviours is prompting the child to take a path away from the truth? And more often than not, a child lies just to make his parents happy.
WHAT kind of lies do children tell?
Children have an active imagination and they tend to look at the world a little differently than adults. In their innocent minds, the line between reality and fantasy is often blurred and the untruths they speak are an extension of the same. They can start off by spinning tales like ‘ My father has ten cars’ or ‘No, I didn’t eat the pack of cookies, the cat did.’ Sometimes, lies are a way of dealing with a particularly unwanted situation. For example, a child may develop an imaginary friend if he’s lonely. And sometimes, a child might lie to change the outcome of his actions by wishful thinking. For example, when a child says he didn’t do it and his cat did it, the child merely wishes that his cat and not he who did it.
HOW to deal with the situation?
The first step towards dealing with a child that lies or has been lying is to acknowledge the fact that lying is a very normal part of a child’s development. The first time is always difficult to handle and we, as parents, tend to feel betrayed and frustrated. DON’T BE! Instead of engaging in a knee-jerk reaction and reprimanding the child, it is better to take a deep breath and analyze why the lying took place in the first place. Here are a few ways to go about it.
- Talk to your child and understand why he did what he did. If the child lied to you about finishing his dinner when in reality, the food ended up in the trash, ask him if he didn’t like the food or ask beforehand what he would like for dinner.
- A good way will be to always emphasize the importance of honesty. Build a system where you praise your child regularly when he tells the truth or owns up a mistake.
- Supporting your child goes a long way in deterring your child from being dishonest. Say, your kid broke a glass. Rather than confronting him with a stern question about why he broke the glass or why was he so careless, a child is reassured when we tell him that it’s ok and that accidents happen and that we have to be more careful in the future or let’s clean up the mess together.
- If your child has a habit of bragging, it could be his way of seeking attention and admiration from you. When your child does a good job, make sure he is appreciated and praised. This way, he learns that good work is appreciated and he doesn’t have to invent stories to be valued and praised.
- Often a child lies when he is unsure or confused about what is acceptable and what is not. As parents, we have to be clear about rules about what is acceptable and reinforce them. Let the child know that lying is NOT ok and it comes with consequences, sometimes serious ones. It is important for the child to know that telling the truth builds trust and lying destroys it.
- When you find out that your child hasn’t been honest, rather than discipline him or lecturing him about it, a good way is to take the help of different media. It could be a book, a song, or a video that sends the message of being truthful and honest. A playful way goes a long way in making the child realize these important values.
A child learns more watching his parents rather than being told what to do. If your child routinely witnesses his parents not being truthful, he might feel that being untruthful is alright. Usually, lying isn’t the biggest problem in a child’s growing years, how we respond to this aspect and work towards overcoming it is. Happy parenting!
About The Author
Shweta is the Strategic Designer & Chief Editor for News Shuttle. Writing has been a passion with her and she hopes that this endeavour will help kids learn and have fun at the same time.
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